Category Archives: Misc.

Visit to the McManus

As part of a class exercise we visited the McManus, Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum, in order to built on our critical response skills. Here are my results:

Gallery Visited: The McManus

Location: Dundee

A little about the gallery: Recently refurbished and also a museum. Has a permanent gallery displaying are from previous centuries as well as a temporary gallery which changes (currently displaying roman antiquities and related work).

Duration: 2-3 hours

Activity: Critically respond to a piece.

Portrait of James Scott Skinner, “The Strathspey King”

John Hunter, 1913

james scott skinner comparison

 

Initial response:

Lots of character. Classic old gruff man. Looks like great fun at the pub. Maybe sexist and racist though.

Description:

An old kilted man of stature sits in his chair, violin in hand. He wears a fur coat, and looks irritated at having to sit still for the portrait, as if he has places to be.

There is a roughness in the brushwork that adds to his gruff nature and compliments his aged and weathered face.

The background and coat are a bit desaturated, which brings the colours in the face forward. Red in the waistcoat is also strong and draws attention to his traditional attire.

Observations:

There is a contrast between the lordly clothing of the subject and his gruff, weathered face. He is both serious and jovial. Composition and brushwork lend towards the idea of him be adventurous in his eagerness to leave the chair and the rough brushwork. This breathes life into the subject and gives a good idea of his character.

Critical view:

The piece certainly succeeds at presenting personality. But it presents both a regal nobleman and a mischievous adventurer (it feels almost as if the violin should be replaced with a blunderbuss). This contrast confuses the piece a bit and makes it quite comical.

Reflective view & influence:

I really like this piece, the rough brushwork works well with the weathered face to add life to the subject. I would really like to replicate such brushwork in my digital painting, but previous attempts at this have not ended well.

The piece also shows me how the whole body can be used in a portrait, even when the focus is on the face. Normally I create busts but here is an example of the full body contributing to attitude and personality without being a distraction.

Action response:

  • Return to oil painting,
  • Try to implement oil painting techniques into photoshop,
    • Find/create brushes to achieve similar effects.

Schedule and Milestones

So I often have an issue of working along nicely and working through all my research and development, and then suddenly ITS DEADLINES AND I HAVE SO MUCH LEFT TO DO WHERE DID THE TIME GO?!?! So for this semester I am setting myself a schedule in advance to work to.

I’ve kept it quite basic just now on the fact that my brief is not yet confirmed. But also I don’t want to go into too much specifics because it may be that further down the line I realise some tasks need more time, or are not as important as other tasks, and need to make changes.

Anyway, as of this post these are my current milestones:

Week 1 (12 Jan)

  • Decide brief

Week 2 (19 Jan)

  • Refine brief

Week 3 (26 Jan)

  • Life/live drawing faces x4 pages (sketch with rough shade)
  • Photo-study sketches with shade x6 (sketchbook)
  • Find/read tutorials/techniques on drawing faces, document on blog.

Week 4 (2 Feb)

  • Life/live drawing faces x4 pages (sketch with rough shade)
  • Photo-study portraits with black and white shade x4 (digital)
  • Continue reading tutorials/techniques on drawing faces, document on blog

Week 5 (9 Feb)

  • Life/live drawing faces x4 pages (sketch with rough shade)
  • Photo-study portraits with colour shade x4 (digital)
    • make notes on which colours go where
  • Find and experiment with new photoshop brushes
    • aim for a painterly look

Week 6 (16 Feb)

  • Life/live drawing faces x4 pages (sketch with rough shade)
  • Photo-study portraits with colour shade x4 (digital)
    • make notes on which colours go where
  • Continue experimentations with new photoshop brushes

Week 7 (23 Feb)

  • Life/live drawing faces x4 pages (sketch with rough shade)
  • Portrait studies with colour shade x4 (digital)
    • first attempt at drawing faces from imagination
  • Begin visual research and study of expressionism and its artists

Week 8 (2 Mar)

  • Life/live drawing faces x4 pages (sketch with rough shade)
  • Portrait studies with colour shade x4 (digital)
    • attempt at drawing faces from imagination
  • Continue visual research and study of expressionism and its artists

Week 9 (9 Mar)

  • Life/live drawing faces x4 pages (sketch with rough shade)
  • Revise previous portraits x2
    • implementing expressionistic colour and techniques

Week 10 (16 Mar)

  • Life/live drawing faces x4 pages (sketch with rough shade)
  • Revise previous portraits x2
    • implementing expressionistic colour and techniques

Week 11 (23 Mar)

  • Life/live drawing faces x4 pages (sketch with rough shade)
  • Begin work on final submissions, focus on correct anatomy and structure

Week 12 (13 Apr)

  • Life/live drawing faces x4 pages (sketch with rough shade)
  • Continue work on final submissions, begin shading and tone

Week 13 (20 Apr)

  • Life/live drawing faces x4 pages (sketch with rough shade)
  • Continue work on final submissions, begin colour and expressional influences

Week 14 (27 Apr)

  • Refine and finish final submissions

The Brief, v0.1

I still need to get the go ahead on my brief but I have refined my initial ideas down into something much more succinct and easy to set goals for. The brief statement is as follows:

Produce a series of portraits which explore themes of expressionism. Characters should show design influences from a specific military era.

In following this brief I will seek to increase my understanding of facial anatomy. Another primary goal will be using expressionism to explore how I can use colour and form in my imagery to create striking and dynamic pieces of work. I will also be looking at increasing my rendering skills to further this effect.

I decided to add the smaller specification of military era influences in order to keep the portraits similarly themed and connected to one and other, making the final submission more cohesive.

My proposed submissions for this brief are 3 portraits:

  • One line work portrait,
  • One monotone shaded portrait,
  • One Expressionistic portrait.

However if this is not sufficient the plan is to change it to 3 Expressionistic portraits.

Semester 2 Starts Here!

Last semester I worked on a character design brief and it taught me a lot, both in terms of new skills and skill I need to work on. Whilst my knowledge in anatomy and rendering did indeed develop I think it still has a long way to go. Particularly, I think that I can improve on drawing faces, especially ones which display emotions.

Furthermore, as Ryan pointed out, my tone and shading needs a lot of work. I tend to do little other than increase the lightness or darkness of the base colour and shy away from anything more daring and bold.

With that in mind, I propose a digital portrait series exploring tone/colour and emotion. I would begin with simple black and white portraits to improve my anatomy and understanding of faces. Then I would chose a selection of these to develop further and experiment with various uses and applications of colour.

I think this will definitely improve my my art work across the board. In character design my faces have always been quite plain and dull which I feel takes away from the design, so to study faces and emotion will definitely help. Furthermore, I am hoping that by exploring colour I can finally escape from the self doubt I often feel, spawned from my mild colour blindness (which I will admit I often use as a crutch).

So, to reiterate, my proposed plan for Semester 2 is:

A digital portrait series exploring tone, colour, and emotion.